Speaking up for Rabbits at Whole Foods.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
54
5.6k

group shot_FINAL

Imagine you’re shopping in your local Whole Foods when you discover dogs and cats in the meat case.

You voice your protest, and the company responds by issuing a statement that it is sensitive to the companion animal issue, but that some customers requested dog and cat meat.

Further, Whole Foods Market claims, it employs rigorous animal welfare standards, and the animals live in an enriched environment before they’re humanely slaughtered.

Now, as you look at your beloved dog or cat lying beside you, imagine how those of us who live with bunnies feel about Whole Foods selling our playful, loving and curious animals for dinner.

Rabbits are the nation’s third most popular furry companion animal who live in homes with people. We began to voice our protest, along with many others, including dog-and-cat-people, vegetarians and meat eaters. Some of us who shopped primarily at Whole Foods now go out of our way to boycott it. Many customers were already insulted by the company’s greenwashed claims that all of the animals it sells are humanely slaughtered.

And so, with the rabbit being the symbol for Easter, we protested Whole Foods in Boulder this past weekend. We protested not because domestic rabbits deserve to live more than any of the other animals killed for Whole Foods, but because rabbit meat is a fairly small market in the United States, and Whole Foods is the most profitable natural foods chain, wielding great influence on other stores that seek to emulate the company’s success. Whole Foods does not need to add to the long line of animals it already sells, nor should it add family pets to its offerings.

Further, domestic rabbits already have enough problems. They are routinely slaughtered for their fur and flesh and used in experiments. Like chickens, rabbits are not covered by the USDA’s Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. As pets, they’re misunderstood, neglected, dumped at shelters or “set free” to die. Those of us who live with rabbits are often at the receiving end of “jokes” about violence against our loved ones. The last thing rabbits need is for Whole Foods to popularize the consumption of their flesh among the mainstream.

The company states it does “not allow any animal testing for any of our personal care products, ever”—great news for rabbits—but it now encourages customers to, “Come hop down the bunny trail and get yourself some delicious rabbit today!” Is this how Whole Foods shows it’s being “sensitive to the companion animal issue”—by using words from a children’s song to sell violence toward our companions?

Whole Foods announced its pilot campaign to begin selling rabbit meat at a handful of locations around the country last summer. Since then, it has expanded from two initial regions to most of North America, although it has not introduced it in Boulder yet. There may be a marginal demand for rabbit meat in some areas, but a far greater demand exists for rabbits as companion animals. In fact, Whole Foods is creating an artificial demand for rabbit flesh by auto-shipping it to its stores across the country, whether they want it or not.

The company buys its rabbit “fryers” and “stewers” from suppliers in states that have passed ag-gag laws that restrict outside inspection and verification of standards. Under company guidelines, an eight-pound adult rabbit can be housed his whole life in a two-foot by two-foot space. A mother and her eight babies can be housed in a two 1/8-foot square space.These white New Zealand rabbits can live 8–12 years as sociable, litterbox-using companions in the house and are known as the Golden Retrievers of the rabbit world.

So-called_enriched environment

The Rabbit Advocacy Network published photos from one of the farms that supplies eight-week-old baby rabbits to Iowa Rabbit LLC, the processor and distributor that sells bunnies to Whole Foods. The photos reveal a factory-farm-like environment, with animals crammed into small, wire-bottomed cages, without hay, a single comfort or space to play. Water is delivered through a dirty drip system. Yet Whole Foods Market’s signs boast the rabbits have an “enriched environment.”

Whole Foods is already under nationwide attack for the animal cruelty that lies beneath its veneer of feel-good marketing about humane standards. However, the fact is that even if the company were to meet the standards of rabbit protection groups for raising this species, at the end of the day, a barely weaned baby rabbit is taken from her family and slaughtered, just so Whole Foods can make a buck. Tell Whole Foods how you feel about its new product.

~

Relephant:

What do Monsanto, Starbucks & Whole Foods have in common?

~

Author: Jill Bielawski 

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own

~

Facebook is in talks with major corporate media about pulling their content into FB, leaving other sites to wither or pay up if we want to connect with you, our readers. Want to stay connected before the curtain drops? Get our curated, quality newsletters below!

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
54
5.6k

Read The Best Articles of January
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.
CLICK TO SEE WHO WON

Jill Bielawski

Jill Bielawski is an award-winning animal rights activist who has successfully fought for animals from pigeons to prairie dogs in Boulder. She has a degree in journalism and works as an editor at a high-tech company. Her passions span veganism, photography, editing, wildlife, animal sanctuaries and the environment. A deep connection to animals and nature has always provided her best inspiration to write, and she seeks to spread awareness about the lives of the furry, feathered and finned. Jill is particularly interested in interspecies relationships and how the words we use about “others” influence our attitudes and behavior. She lives in the mountains and currently volunteers with a rabbit rescue group and her local fire department. Connect with her at [email protected] or on Twitter.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Oct 6, 2015 4:18pm

You do realise that rabbits have decimated natural environments in New Zealand and Australia? But they are fluffy and cute so i suppose that’s all right?

    anonymous Oct 6, 2015 4:50pm

    That seems to have little to do with the content of this article.

anonymous May 22, 2015 4:52pm

Ha-ha in Ranch 99 there are the same rabbits and there is no any attention. How about French cuisine? People can eat what ever they like. Nobody enforced so far to be vegetarian.

anonymous May 11, 2015 9:22am

Why are they selling rabbit meat to begin with ? Sure its very lean meat but has little to no nutritional value. Eat vegetables.

anonymous Apr 11, 2015 12:10pm

Great article Jill… I've shared my home with rabbits for 15 years and they are part of my family. I agree that we must voice our concern to Whole Foods to stop yet another animal from becoming another factory farming nightmare.
I applaud everyone in the community that works to protect all animals. I understand those of us that have family members that are now becoming part of corporate greed have our own fight to win.

anonymous Apr 9, 2015 1:26pm

ok

anonymous Apr 9, 2015 11:14am

Where are people getting the information that rabbits are the third most popular companion animal? The American Veterinary Medical Association has them at 6th place at best behind cats, dogs, fish, birds, and horses.

And the beauty of the USA is that you are free to not eat anything you don't want to; or free not to shop anywhere you think is unfit. While I am free to choose to eat what and shop where I wish. Are you saying I shouldn't have that freedom because I disagree with you?
https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Page

    anonymous Apr 9, 2015 12:37pm

    You're correct about the popular animal stats. I sent a note to my editor yesterday requesting this clarification in my article: rabbits are the nation’s *third most popular furry companion animal who live in homes with people.* The link you sent has an error, but I already did the research on this since others brought it to my attention. I will also notify my source of this clarification so they can adapt it too. Thank you. And no one's saying you don't have these rights. Many people like to be informed about what's behind the businesses they support and what (and whom) they eat. The privilege of living in America is we're all free to state our opinions.

      anonymous Apr 9, 2015 4:38pm

      PS The American Pet Products Association (APPA) does not include horses in the survey because it does not consider them "pets." Even though many are, a lot of horses are kept for other purposes. So according to the APPA's big annual survey, rabbits are the third most popular mammalian companion animal (what a mouthful!).

anonymous Apr 9, 2015 9:57am

Great Article! You are RIGHT ON TARGET!!

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 9:41pm

Jill, Thank you for this wonderful article. It is spot on perfect! Thank you for being a voice for the rabbits and all animals. I am fortunate enough to live near an AR Activist that fights for ALL animals being exploited and has no issue standing outside Whole Foods holding up a "rabbit" sign. She does not look at it as a single issue campaign at all.
Keep up the good work! 🙂

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 8:17pm

I think that it is wonderful that Whole foods is offering a healthy protein source as rabbit. Thanks for giving me the heads up! We live in the country in an original homesteaders home and have harvested our own many times. The meat is delicious!

    anonymous Apr 9, 2015 3:36pm

    I find the choice of words we use so meaningful and interesting. Animal killers love to use the word "harvest" instead of the more direct word, "kill." Personally I'd only use the word "harvest" when it comes to my garden.

    anonymous Apr 13, 2015 1:25am

    Homesteaders don't usually go online or Whole Foods. Killing is not kind nor compassionate…Ever.

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 4:09pm

Thank you Jill, for writing this. I applaud your efforts and courage to be the voice of so many that can’t speak for themselves… Thank you…

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 2:12pm

A lot of moral schizophrenia on view here – outrage against rabbits, when cows, pigs, chickens are just fine. Why don’t you walk the talk of your outrage, become vegan and protest the torture and death of all animals for our palate pleasure?

    anonymous Apr 8, 2015 8:40pm

    A lot of assumptions here, Anne. How do you know I don’t?!

      anonymous Apr 21, 2015 6:02pm

      It was you who said that there are "meat eaters" among the protesters…

        anonymous Apr 27, 2015 10:55am

        James, of course all were welcome at the protest. Further, attending such a protest can give birth to new insights and a change in thinking that can foster a change in diet. There is no harm, just food for critics to point fingers and claim hypocrisy b/c that's what they like to do.

    anonymous Oct 2, 2015 12:47pm

    of course we protest eating animals…all animals

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 2:27am

The insensitivity level is off the charts! What is also disgusting is how they are ignoring their customers requests. Such arrogance will catch up to them soon though.
Thank you for this great article! I hope everyone speaks up in writing, in person and by signing the petition! http://www.change,org/wholefoodsrabbits over 38,000 people have signed already!

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 8:34pm

Lee, though your comments about the historical significance of rabbits as a food source may be correct, they're not relevant now, as you yourself alluded to. One of the relevant issues here is that by all indications, the animals are *not* properly cared for (see http://www.rabbitadvocacynetwork.org/whole-foods/… nor are they "dispatched," as you put it, in a humane way (http://www.rabbitadvocacynetwork.org/whole-foods/how-whole-foods-bunnies-are-killed/). You talk about introducing and enforcing legal protection for their keep/slaughter like it's such an easy thing! Of course I understand that many people are currently choosing to be omnivores. I was once one myself! But vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike support this campaign. Thanks for your comment.

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 8:23pm

I agree, Susan. I too live with a rabbit, though I'd speak up on this even if I didn't. Thanks for your comment. You've probably logged this with Whole Foods, but by chance you haven't, please do!

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 7:54pm

Boycott Whole Foods! It's disgusting they've added domestic rabbits, the SAME kind of rabbits that are my pets, the same as my cat and dog! Yet they tout their "cruelty-free" products with a rabbit – but it's OKAY to breed and kill little rabbits! I hate Whole Foods.

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 7:31pm

Whole Foods gives new meaning to the word hypocrite!!!!

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 7:15pm

Protesting Whole Foods for unobjective reasons and driving consumers to less ethical stores to purchase meat sources that harm the environment MORE is accomplishing what? Despite claims that it is not, this is textbook example of speciesism… “protesting the addition of one species by Whole Foods does not take away from the other sentient beings who are being killed for their profits.” Yes, yes it certainly does.
Calling attention AWAY from a massive problem and ONTO a complete non-issue IS harmful. Very harmful. Worldwide cattle farming is the number one cause of pollution in the world. It contributes more greenhouse gas emissions to global warming than all carbon emissions combined and is also the leading cause of drought, world hunger and deforestation. The rabbit industry isn’t adding anything to these issues. Articles like these keep focus away from the elephant in the room and only the big agribusiness tycoons are winning…

    anonymous Apr 7, 2015 7:56pm

    "Calling attention AWAY from a massive problem and ONTO a complete non-issue IS harmful."

    So every article in the world about every thing besides those talking about cattle farming is harmful? No. We can talk about more than one thing at a time. And I'm tired of people saying that we can accept lesser evils because there are bigger ones out there. Good luck with Hillary. ~Travis

    anonymous Apr 9, 2015 9:53am

    David – Rabbit has ONLY been in the grocery store in Chicago since last August – we're trying to stop this from getting worse AND IT IS! I don't understand how people who are against having animals in grocery stores wouldn't WANT TO STOP another from being there WHY – because it's VOGUE? You know it takes 133 rabbits killed for 1 steer? So 1 STEER causes more emissions than 133 rabbits? NOT! People are telling you a lot of bull. We're NOT driving people to shop at other stores – we're trying to get people to STOP rabbits being an ADDITION to another horribly abused animal in the grocery store. GET OFF YOUR EVERYTHINGS GOT TO BE PERFECT ATTITUDE! Geez!

      anonymous Apr 9, 2015 12:10pm

      Please keep the conversations mindful. Yelling at each other isn't helpful.

      anonymous Apr 21, 2015 6:04pm

      What are you saying is false. Number of animals killed does not matter when you come to emissions/environment. Weight of meat produced is. And facts are, with the resources needed to produce 1 pound of beef meat, one make 4 to 6 pounds of rabbit meat. So yes, rabbits cause less emissions.

        anonymous Apr 27, 2015 10:53am

        Regardless, we're talking about well over 100 small animals suffering and dying versus one large one. From an ethical standpoint, your argument is lost.

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 5:00pm

Heroes!

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 3:28pm

March 26, 1916. the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Everybody's got a lot of letter writing and phone calling to do before our warrior Jill organizes yet another demonstration supporting our friends, be they rabbits or any other loving animal.

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 3:19pm

Well written.

Thanks for taking a stand. I will check out our Whole Food in Cleveland and if they carry rabbit, will voice my concerns to the manager.

Namaste

    anonymous Apr 7, 2015 5:58pm

    Thank you, Jay! That would be awesome. Six Whole Foods stores in Ohio currently sell rabbit meat. Regardless of whether your store is carrying it or not, the execs at Whole Foods Market need to hear from us. We protested in Boulder even though WF stores in Colorado aren't carrying it at this point. Namaste.

anonymous Apr 7, 2015 1:37am

I am very disappointed in Whole Foods! There is absolutely nothing enriching or humane in the way these bunnies are raised. Since these animals are such popular pets and live in many homes with many caring people, it is ludicrous to think that the public would be supportive of Whole Food's move to sell rabbit meat in their stores. This is no different than the horse slaughter industry that so many Americans have fought to keep out of our country. Whole Foods, listen up, we do not want to see our pets in your meat case, period!

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 10:11pm

I would eat dog and then go home and play with one.

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 10:06pm

Why is this wrong if it is okay to eat a cow, a pig, a chicken? They are peaceful animals as well. I don’t eat animals, but we must remember that in some cultures, this is completely normal. Specism.

    anonymous Apr 6, 2015 10:36pm

    Thanks for the comment. I'm a vegan AR activist, as were many who attended the demo, and do the best I can not to subscribe to speciesism. I've fielded this question dozens of time this week. I didn't say it was OK to eat other animals; on the contrary, I wrote "We protested not because domestic rabbits deserve to live more than any of the other animals killed for Whole Foods, but because rabbit meat is a fairly small market in the United States, and Whole Foods is the most profitable natural foods chain, wielding great influence on other stores that seek to emulate the company’s success. Whole Foods does not need to add to the long line of animals it already sells, nor should it add family pets to its offerings. Further, domestic rabbits already have enough problems…." We can speak up for turkeys at Thanksgiving, rabbits for Easter, etc. — protesting the addition of one species by Whole Foods does not take away from the other sentient beings who are being killed for their profits. A protester at the demo said it well today: "We have the power to stop the addition and enslavement of yet another species of animals we as humans kill and torture for our enjoyment before it becomes mainstream. That would be one victory. If we turn our backs in apathy or indifference, then we are contributing to yet another human atrocity." Human slavery used to be completely normal too….

      anonymous Apr 7, 2015 9:28pm

      Lee, though your comments about the historical significance of rabbits as a food source may be correct, they're not relevant now, as you yourself alluded to. One of the relevant issues here is that by all indications, the animals are *not* properly cared for (see http://www.rabbitadvocacynetwork.org/whole-foods/…. nor are they "dispatched," as you put it, in a humane way (http://www.rabbitadvocacynetwork.org/whole-foods/how-whole-foods-bunnies-are-killed/). You talk about introducing and enforcing legal protection for their keep/slaughter like it's such an easy thing! Of course I understand that many people are currently choosing to be omnivores. I was once one myself–and even ate rabbits that my father hunted! But vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike now support this campaign. Thanks for your comment.

    anonymous Apr 11, 2015 9:10am

    Then, by the same token why it is wrong to eat a dog or a cat? Specism.

      anonymous Apr 11, 2015 9:21am

      My, it's easy for people to cry "speciesism" (it's spelled that way, FYI). Personally, I'm vegan and speak up for *all* animals. Do you?

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 10:00pm

Very nice job pointing out the hypocrisy at Whole Foods. No animal testing but they’ll gladly torture rabbits for food products!

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 6:35pm

Rabbit is good meat and is commonly eaten in America.

    anonymous Apr 7, 2015 7:28am

    Did you read the part where it is a companion animal and there are no legal protections for their keep/slaughter on farms or are you just like "MUST FORCE MY OPINIONS ON EVERYONE WHO DARES TO DISAGREE WITH ME NOW!"

      anonymous May 22, 2015 3:51pm

      in many cities they are not considered companion animals and listed as livestock along with chickens, ducks and turkeys. This type of listing limits how many a person can have. I have no issues with people who want to eat rabbit. It is a very lean and healthy meat just like chicken, and important for those who have heart issues. Should those people suffer cause you can't get past the cute and cuddly stage of a baby rabbit? Come to my house, I will introduce you to a rabbit that is not so cute and cuddly who my daughter uses for doing jumping and agility.

        anonymous Jun 16, 2015 9:27am

        Actually I have been rescuing rabbits for something like a decade now. In fact, most people here who are opposed to Whole Foods selling rabbit meat have gone past the "cute and cuddly" stage straight to the "goddammit you little jerk, you ate another computer cable!" stage many times, to the mourning the loss of a companion who has been with us for years when they pass away stage, many times.

        You're still ignoring the part where this is the 3-5th (depending on which list you look at) most popular pet in the US and Canada. Also ignoring that there are no protections for their keep and slaughter (never mind the abuse that happens to animals that have those protections in the first place.)

        I find it incredibly discomforting that your daughter has a pet that she competes with and you're still advocating for the treatment of it's kin as a food source (a manufactured one, not bred out of need, but Whole Food's desire to create a niche market and increase profit. Don't believe me? Check out their sales records since they began selling them.)

    anonymous Apr 7, 2015 12:53pm

    I agree with R Parker. Rabbits have only become companion animals during recent times. If it where not for rabbits many a person in past times would have starved to death. And I realise we are talking about domestic rabits, but I'm referring to both wild and domesticated species. Rabbits kept my family alive during World War II (and yes, times have changed and I know it isn't WW II). If they are properly cared for and dispatched in a humane way then I see no issue. If need be then introduce and enforce legal protection for their keep/slaughter. Sorry to all vegans, but you surely must understand that some of us choose to remain omnivores. I'm not a hypocrite since I've raised and eaten rabbits for years. They make great pets and some people eat them. And please, no haters because I have a differing opinion – simply respect one and other…..oh yah, and the animals as well…I know I do.

      anonymous Apr 12, 2015 11:04pm

      Yes we are evolving and times are changing! Yes it is considered "Poor Man's Meat".

      Whole foods does not raise them or slaughter them in humane ways. You can see all the details on the Rabbit Advocacy Network Website.

      Ok, I'm sorry Lee… Not trying to hate on you but I have to ask is killing respectful to the being you are killing? I'm a little confused by that!

    anonymous Apr 9, 2015 9:54am

    NO ITS NOT COMMONLY EATEN IN AMERICA! It was just introduced into large grocery stores in Chicago LAST AUGUST!

      anonymous Apr 9, 2015 12:57pm

      Thank you, Patricia! Lee, I responded to your comment, but it's not in the right place. Look below. I'm learning my way abound this site.

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 6:22pm

Thank you for standing up for the rabbits and for this well spoken essay!

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 4:54pm

Thought provoking and insightful article.

anonymous Apr 6, 2015 1:17pm

Excellent article calling Whole Foods out on its hypocrisy.